LOOKING AT THE BIG PICTURE

Oman 2020 | SUSTAINABILITY | INTERVIEW

Haya Water is looking at raising its standards and pushing forward restructuring that will eventually help it expand into the region.

Hussain Hassan Ali Abdul Hussain
BIOGRAPHY

Hussain Hassan Ali Abdul Hussain became the CEO of Haya Water in 2012. He brings with him 24 years of experience in oil and gas projects, business operations, and commercial developments in Oman. He graduated from the University of Arizona and spent 14 years working for Petroleum Development Oman.

What were your key highlights of 2019, and how do they reflect your strategy for both the short and medium-term?
The key achievement of 2019 was we started commissioning the Al Amarat plant, which was delayed for a few years. We also finished two projects linked to Al Amarat that allowed us to increase the number of connected people—from 116,000 to 126,000 in Muscat and from 34,000 to 39,000 in RG. We managed to install IVMS on all yellow tankers, which led to an increased number of trips to STP with the wastewater tankers from close to 250,000 to almost half a million. From a technology point of view, one of the key projects for us is converting sludge into energy, and we will spend more resources on that. Our focus is to move quickly, especially for the big project execution, hoping to get more funds in the coming years. There is a long way to go, especially in reverse osmosis, where connectivity is almost 4-6%. Within these short-term targets, our medium-term strategy is to expand internationally. This big picture thinking will allow us to solve our local issues and raise our standards, pushing forward a restructuring that will then help us expand into the GCC and other Arab countries.

What does the new PPP law mean for the utilities, and where do you see gaps within Oman's wastewater industry?
A new PPP and Privatization Law were implemented at the end of 2019, which shows how seriousness the government is about private partner involvement. On our side, we are looking to engage with a private player in the Misfaa STP project to help bring funds and develop it faster, better, and cheaper than Haya Water. We want to learn from them, as this will help our goals for international expansion.

How is this increased efficiency playing a role in the push to get SMEs into the ecosystem?
SMEs are key for Haya Water, and we started looking at them in 2013, before Riyaada was established in the market. We had a plan as part of our 2014 KPIs to develop and support SMEs, and we have already won two awards from Riyaada as a large company supporting SMEs. In 2019, we awarded contracts to 10 SMEs to do wet connections in Al Amarat, and they are doing an excellent job at a lower cost than main contractors. Slowly, small projects around OMR1-1.5 million can be given to SMEs. When water pipes are short and straight, it is easy; however, with wastewater, the pipes are longer in different directions, and it can be difficult for SMEs to take on such projects. We slowly gear them up for that. In 2019 and 2020, we carried out training programs for SMEs in three batches, 47 SMEs in 2020 alone. We instructed them on how to bid for projects, bookkeeping, and finance, and how to prevent the common mistakes made when bidding for our jobs.

What are your strategic priorities for 2020?
The market is extremely dynamic at the moment, and there are many forces. COVID-19 has driven oil prices to below USD30, and, as the budget was based on USD58, on a daily basis we lose USD28 million. Therefore, we have to borrow that money in order to meet the budget requirements, and we are all affected by the developments. The government has told us how much we will get this year; however, if it does not have money, we will have to reduce our budget. We need to work through those scenarios and risks, as 2020 has been a challenging year.